SADLER STAYS HOME TO FIGHT FOUR-FRONT WAR
COMBATANT & CAMPAIGN IN SERIOUS DRILLS FOR NEXT SATURDAY
CHATLOS POINTS INSTAGRAND TO NEXT SATURDAY’S SAN PASQUAL
EURTON RELISHES LANDSLIDE ECLIPSE WIN WITH STORM THE COURT
SADLER ‘LOADED’ TODAY WITH HORSES AT FOUR DIFFERENT VENUES
In what is sure to be a Hall of Fame career, trainer John Sadler has opted to keep the home fires burning as he wages a four-front war on Saturday.
“We’ve got horses in a four different tracks today, Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Oaklawn Park and Golden Gate Fields,” said Sadler this morning from Barn 56 on the Santa Anita backstretch. “I had my bags packed yesterday to go to Gulfstream and be with Higher Power (likely favorite or second choice in today’s Grade I, $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational), but I had some personal stuff come up, so I decided to stay home.
“We’ve got a great team at Gulfstream, with Juan Leyva in charge, so we’re in good hands and Higher Power is doing very well. I’m excited to run Flagstaff here in the Palos Verdes and then we’ve got horses running up north and at Oaklawn, so it should be a heck of a day.
SADLER’S COMBATANT & CAMPAIGN DRILL FOR SATURDAY STAKES
Sadler was also busy with important works this morning at Santa Anita, as Combatant, a 5-year-old ridgeling who had been based in Kentucky with Steve Asmussen, will make his Southern California debut in next Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes and Campaign, a long fused runner primarily on dirt, is scheduled to go a mile and one quarter on turf in next Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Marcos Stakes.
Combatant and Campaign drilled six furlongs in company this morning, with Santa Anita clockers assigning 1:14 flat clockings to both.
“Combatant is doing real well,” said Sadler. “He worked in 1:14 last week as well and these were both serious drills. He’s ready to go in the San Pasqual and he’s a very versatile horse. Purchased privately following a one turn mile allowance win at Churchill Downs, Combatant, a son of Scat Daddy, is 22-3-5-3, with earnings of $648,498.
Eased as the 3-5 favorite going 1 ¾ miles on dirt in the Grade II Marathon Stakes here Nov. 1, Woodford Racing’s Campaign, a full full horse by Curlin, appears ready for his 5-year-old debut on Saturday.
“Campaign got a little sick of those long distance races on dirt,” said Sadler. “If you look at his form late in 2018, he ran a couple big races on grass at Kentucky Downs (a 1 ½ mile turf maiden win Sept. 1 and a 1 5/16 mile allowance win on Sept. 8, 2018), so we’re hopeful he’ll run big over this course. He’s a natural stayer, the longer the distance, the better for him.”
INSTAGRAND DRILLS OUT OF GATE IN PREP FOR SATURDAY’S SAN PASQUAL
A 10 ¼ length winner of the Grade II Best Pal Stakes in his second career start, and third in both the Grade III Gotham Stakes and Grade I Santa Anita Derby in starts three and four, OXO Equine’s Instagrand, who was most recently third as the 9-5 favorite in a one mile allowance here Jan. 1, drilled six furlongs out of the gate this morning in 1:16.60 as he preps for next Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Pascual Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.
“I know the time is slow, but to be honest, the track was pretty slow this morning,” said Don Chatlos, former assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, who has been Instagrand’s trainer of record for his last two starts. “When the track is slow like this, my exercise riders know it and there’s no point in trying to make something happen with the time…He galloped out good and he got out of it what he needed to.
“His first race with me at Del Mar (a fifth place finish as the even money favorite in second condition allowance going 6 ½ furlongs Dec. 1), you can throw it out. He had shipped in from New York and was pulling early, very anxious and he just stopped. His next race here on Jan. 1, Baffert sent a horse and really made him run early, with no breather. He got a little tired and got beat a length and a half, but hopefully he’s rounding into form now.”
STORM THE COURT LANDSLIDE ECLIPSE AWARD WINNER
A longshot no more, trainer Peter Eurton’s Santa Anita-based Storm the Court was an overwhelming 147-51 selection as the nation’s Eclipse Champion 2-year-old Male, as was announced Thursday night at the 49th annual Eclipse Awards gala held at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida.
By Court Vision, out of the Tejano Run mare My Tejana Storm, Storm the Court, who finished 96 votes clear of runner-up Structor, won his Eclipse on the strength of his gutty gate to wire triumph in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile here on Nov. 1, a race in which he prevailed by a head and paid $93.80 to win.
“We had no idea on how the vote would go, so we’re obviously elated,” said Eurton, who returned early Friday morning from Gulfstream. “We weren’t about to count our chickens before they hatched, but it is very gratifying and we’re excited about running in the San Vicente.
“He’s a late foal (May 5, 2017), so he’s still growing. He’s filled out some since the Breeders’ Cup and he’s training well.”
A well beaten third in Santa Anita’s Grade I American Pharoah Stakes on Sept. 27, Storm the Court’s connections were undeterred and the colt responded with his Breeders’ Cup triumph at odds of 45-1. With the winner’s share of $1.1 million, Storm the Court now has total earnings of $1,172,951–not bad for a horse that was purchased for $60,000 at the Ocala Breeders April 2-year-old in Training Sale.
“This is definitely a once in a lifetime deal,” said part owner Dan Hudock, who resides in nearby Glendora with his wife Rosalyn. “I told my wife this is a million to one shot, if you think we can do this twice, you’re crazy! I’m really a nobody, but I’ve been doing this for 35 years and for 32 of those, I was dealing with claiming horses.
“I’ve done the math and a $20,000 claimer costs just as much to maintain as Storm the Court. We’ve been with Pete for three years now and with this horse, we don’t see a vet bill, he gets shoes, Lasix for workouts and a couple carrots! We had no idea if we’d win. We stayed home and watched the whole thing…My phone was ringing all night.”
With two wins from four starts at age two, Storm the Court, who has been ridden in all of his races by Flavien Prat, worked five furlongs this past Sunday and is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in Santa Anita’s Grade II, $200,000 San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs on Feb. 9.
“A couple more works will tighten the screws up a little bit,” said Eurton following the work, which was completed in 1:00.30 in tandem with Prat. “I’ve got pictures of Flavien pulling up with a smile on his face. He’s very pleased and that makes me happy.”
SIMULCAST WAGERING NOW OFFERED IN SANTA ANITA SPORTS BOOK
In addition to the Grandstand Paddock Room, Santa Anita is now offering free parking and admission on Wednesdays and Thursdays for fans attending its Sports Book, which adjoins the Turf Terrace on the Mezzanine level. State of the art in every respect, the Santa Anita Sports Book features wall-to-wall flat screen television monitors and plenty of betting windows. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com.
FINISH LINES: . . . Notable works this morning: Starr of Quality, 50.60, Dr. Dorr, 1:01.00, Encoder, 1:00.60, Justinian, 1:00.60, Restrainedvengence, 1:02.20 and St. Joe Bay, 1:01.80.TGIF: Santa Anita offers $2 beer and $6 specialty cocktails each Friday at designated locations throughout the track. Specialty cocktails include a Baldwin Buck, Margarita and other selected cocktails. There is also free Club House (including Santa Anita’s Sports Book) and General Admission each Friday . . . FIRST POST TIME TODAY IS AT 12 NOON AND WE’LL HAVE AN 11 A.M. FIRST POST ON BIG GAME SUNDAY, FEB. 2.